A month after his GOP opponent pulled the curtain back from his plan for Burlington County reform, Democratic Freeholder candidate Tom Bader unveiled his own reform agenda designed to restore fiscal discipline to county government.
Bader’s plan includes provisions to trim the vehicle fleet, create a citizens’ ethics enforcement board investigating suspected fraud and abuse by appointed and elected officials, and competitive bidding contracts for professional services, eliminate no-show jobs and cut jobs through attrition.
"Everyone I talk to as I go door-to-door throughout the county is tired of the waste, corruption, skyrocketing taxes and spending that have become the norm in Burlington County," said Bader, 43, a Moorestown resident and physician. "Enough is enough. The status quo is unacceptable."
In a fight with GOP Cinnaminson Committeeman Joseph Donnelly, Bader says the 2007 county budget increased spending to $226.5 million, up 5 % from the 2006 budget. The tax levy – which has been increased to $162.8 million, the actual revenue drawn directly property taxpayers – has increased 6 % over the previous year’s budget, he says. In Burlington County, 34 of 40 municipalities saw their tax rates increase – that’s 85 % of the county.
Bader argues he’s in a better position to deliver reform than Donnelly, running for a seat on a governing body run by Republicans.
"Despite the incumbents’ rhetoric, taxes continue to rise at an alarming rate," said Bader. "We need to start cutting taxes and spending, making senior, children, families and education programs our top priorities, not no-bid contracts."
Bader said he also wants to ban nepotism in county government, end no-bid contracts by county government, limit the number of annual contracts held by any one business, impose new campaign contribution disclosure requirements for any person or entity seeking a county contract (consistent with new ELEC requirements), and ban dual office holding and multiple forms of public employment involving any elected position in the county.
Donnelly, meanwhile, says he wants to cut the county's property tax levy by $25 million over the next three years. How to do it? Institute a hiring freeze for non-critical employees that he says could trim county government by 200 employees.